In the early nineties, it seemed as though the music world was almost trying to put Bob Dylan out to pasture. The iconic singer had suffered terribly during the eighties as he struggled to reconcile with his new position in the musical hierarchy — a much lowlier position than he had ever endured before. By the time 1992 beckoned and the 30th anniversary of Dylan’s first recorded release showed up above the horizon, it seemed like Dylan may be done.
In a fitting tribute to the great man, a concert was held to celebrate 30 years of Bob Dylan releases. Colloquially known as Bobfest, the concert welcomed not only some of the brightest performers of the day like Pearl Jam and Tracy Chapman — two acts wholly indebted to Dylan — it also offered Dylan and his contemporaries a chance to get together and let loose on stage. It meant a plethora of all-star names joined Dylan for his special day and we mean a plethora.
Involved in the performance that night was not only Neil Young, George Harrison and Eric Clapton but also Tom Petty, The Band, Kris Kristofferson, Roger McGuinn, Lou Reed and John Mellencamp. It was the kind of crowd that only a true icon like Bob Dylan could draw and he put the artists he did manage to snag to good use.
Across the evening were countless main stage performances that would have made Dylan proud. Pearl Jam’s cover of ‘Masters of War’ was brilliant as was Lou Reed’s enigmatic version of ‘Foot of Pride’. Meanwhile, there’s a rich rendition of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ from John Mellencamp and a marvellous cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ from Neil Young. But the best show of the evening was yet to come as Dylan invited an all-star band to join him on stage to perform ‘My Back Pages’.
With Roger McGuinn leading the vocals, looking behind the performer on this cover of Dylan’s 1964 smash, it’s easy to get starstruck. As well as the freewheelin’ troubadour himself taking a back seat to proceedings, there is also Neil Young, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty all providing the tunes. Young jumps on vocals to deliver his own killer verse but otherwise is left to try and match Clapton’s guitar-playing.
Certainly one of the most potent gatherings of top-notch rock stars we’ve ever seen, this performance is matched only by their rehearsal footage, which is equally as entrancing. But nothing quite lives up to seeing the stars on show deliver a performance that is out of this universe.
There have been many attempts to cover Dylan’s ‘My Back Pages’, it’s a song that welcomes such attempts too. But no cover has come close to the clout that this rendition of the track holds. So, without further ado, sink your teeth into this perfect cover as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Neil Young, Tom Petty and more join forces to sing ‘My Back Pages’ back in 1992.